Speaking to supporters of his party recently, General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party Bharrat Jagdeo said… “this is the beginning of the fight to take back our country…”It is clear that this was a racist dog whistle by Mr. Jagdeo with the intention to create an us-versus-them scenario as we enter into this election season.
The question must be asked of Mr. Jagdeo; take the country back from who? Take our country back to where? What message was Bharrat Jagdeo sending to this section of the electorate?
It must be recalled that in 2015 the Carter Centre accused the PPP of stoking racial tensions between Indian and African Guyanese during the general and regional elections. In its report, the Carter Center said that the 2015 elections campaign was fiercely fought, and several themes coloured the general environment: ethnic politics, as both a uniting and dividing factor; historical struggles among political parties; the need for continuity and change; and underlying threats of violence.
Guyana achieved Independence on 26th May 1966, under the inspirational national motto – One People, One Nation, One Destiny. The Guyanese people today have a duty to actualise the vision of our nation’s founders by continuing their work to make Guyana ‘One Nation.’ We cannot become One Nation if we are divided. We cannot become One Nation if the PPP leader continues to divide the nation.
Our national motto remained as relevant as ever as the people voted in the general and regional elections on 11th May 2015. Guyanese were determined to make national unity a reality. A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition won a majority of the popular vote and renewed its commitment to making Guyana ‘One Nation.’
The results of both the 2011 and 2015 general and regional elections have made it clear that the majority of the Guyanese people want an ‘inclusionary democracy’ in order to promote national unity. The people want greater inclusion, not exclusion. The days of one-party rule as promoted by the PPP are over.
The APNU+AFC Coalition is convinced that greater national unity will bring greater national benefits. These include the elimination of one-party domination of the government; enhancement of local, municipal and parliamentary democracy; enlargement of multi-ethnic space and the elimination of ethnic insecurity; expansion of economic enterprise and development and the enrichment of cultural life, national consciousness and pride.
Guyana, today, is an unequal society. The former PPP administration’s 23-year record ensured that Guyana became and remained an unequal and poor society in which a few people enjoyed an extremely high income and most people endured an extremely small income. The former PPP administration’s attitudes and policies harmed social cohesion, undermined our sense of solidarity, impoverished a large section of the population, alienated the hinterland regions and gradually created ‘two countries’ (coast and hinterland), instead of cementing One Nation.
The Coalition will continue to execute a truly integrated hinterland development plan devised in partnership with indigenous peoples, one which is based on secure property and land rights and environmental protection. The continued empowerment of hinterland communities with requisite capital resources and capacities for agriculture, housing, road construction, manufacturing and other services.
The Coalition will continue to battle against poverty, to establish working people’s economic independence and to improve their livelihood. The Coalition will continue to promote policies and programmes that are geared to finding ways to increase wealth, not to perpetuate poverty.
The Coalition will continue to ensure that Municipal and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils are democratically elected, and that local government elections are held when constitutionally due. The Coalition will fortify grassroots democracy by ensuring that the people are allowed to play a greater role in local government countrywide by finding solutions to rural and agrarian problems.
The Coalition will continue to be totally committed to ensuring equality for all and to protect citizens’ fundamental rights. We will build more Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hubs so as to improve information, communication and education infrastructure in hinterland and coastal areas – a weakness which continues to hinder the development of many citizens. The Coalition will continue its assault on inequality of opportunity and remove impediments to equal access to public services.
The Coalition, most of all, remains committed to achieving national unity and to building bridges to all communities and groups which are interested in the well-being of our citizens and the progress of our country. The Coalition will continue to work towards achieving social cohesion and inclusionary democracy.
APNU+AFC’s ‘One Nation’ approach provides the framework for combining the talents of a wider constituency and creating the conditions for social cooperation and economic progress. The purpose of such a project would be to reach a broad consensus on the goals of national development, to establish a sustainable institutional architecture and to create effective policy instruments for the achievement of our common objectives.
As we prepare for elections and look forward to a second term in office, APNU+AFC continue to engage all segments of society, including the political opposition; trade unions; private sector and civil society – to come together to seek agreement on a broad national programme to move our country forward.
Our focus remains the creation of a Guyana in which all Guyanese, regardless of ethnicity and geography, can feel fully motivated and afforded the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the society, while successfully and safely caring for themselves and their families.
A Guyana in which all citizens live productive lives, free from the ravages of poverty, secure in their homes and in their communities, and enjoy the benefits of political, social economic and cultural development. We are better together!
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